2018 legislative races Archives - Page 2 of 47 - Florida Politics

Florida Retailers endorse five fresh faces for Florida Senate

The Florida Retail Federation on Tuesday endorsed five non-incumbent Republicans running for Florida Senate seats in November’s elections, including one who is looking to unseat an incumbent Democrat.

Among the five candidates getting the nod was Tommy Wright, the newly anointed nominee for Senate District 14. The New Smyrna Beach businessman was selected for the nomination after longtime lawmaker Dorothy Hukill died earlier this month at the age of 72.

FRF’s Tuesday announcement also reiterated its endorsement for former Clearwater Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, who is competing against former New Port Richey Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take over the vacant SD 16. FRF originally endorsed Hooper, who faced a light challenge in the primary, back in early July.

“We’re excited about the positive impact these new candidates will have as senators in supporting Florida’s retail industry and encouraging business growth in our state,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Our team has met with each of these candidates, many of whom we’ve worked with in the past, and we feel confident they’ll have the best interests of our members and business owners at heart during their time in the Florida Senate.”

The other candidates earning an endorsement: Republican Rep. Ben Albritton, who is running to replace Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley in SD 26; Hialeah Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., who is up against Democrat David Perez, a former firefighter, in SD 36; and Marili Cancio, who is looking to oust first-term Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo in SD 40.

Of the five candidates, Albritton and Wright are running in two of the friendliest districts for GOP candidates — Trump carried both seats by double digits two years ago.

Hooper, meanwhile, is in a dogfight with Murphy while Diaz is running in a district that has favored down-ballot Republicans but went plus-14 for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Cancio’s bid may be the hardest, however, with Taddeo having the both the benefit of incumbency.

The new batch of FRF Senate endorsements follows the trade group’s bulk endorsement of Senate incumbents last week. Making that list: Republican Sens. Dennis BaxleyAaron BeanGeorge GainerTom LeeKathleen PassidomoKeith PerryWilton SimpsonKelli Stargel, and Dana Young, as well as Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell.

Election Day is Nov. 6.


Florida Realtors endorse four more state legislative candidates

Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest trade organization, announced Friday that it had endorsed four more candidates seeking election to the state legislature this year.

The nods went to four Republican candidates for the state House: Chuck Brannan, who is seeking to replace term-limited Rep. Elizabeth Porter in HD 10; Anthony Sabatini, the GOP nominee for HD 32; Mike Beltran, who is looking to replace exiting Rep. Jake Raburn in HD 59; and Ray Blacklidge, who is in a tough contest with St. Pete Democrat Jennifer Webb in HD 69.

The announcement marks the “fourth wave” of state legislative endorsements handed out by the Florida Realtors. The group has previously endorsed 108 legislative candidates running in the 115 elections that were not decided at the close of the candidate qualifying period in June.

Florida Realtors PAC has had to make some adjustments to its list of endorsements. In the “first wave” the trade group backed Marc Vann for HD 10 and Jeremy Bailie for HD 69, and in the “second wave” the PAC endorsed Shannon Elswick for HD 32. Sean McCoy earned the Florida Realtors backing in the “third wave.”

The trade association has also issued recommendations for four contenders in the statewide races for Governor, Agriculture Commissioner, Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

todd marks

Todd Marks, Jackie Toledo holding gubernatorial debate watch fundraiser

Hillsborough County Commission candidate Todd Marks and Tampa state Rep. Jackie Toledo, both Republicans, are holding a fundraising reception Sunday during the first gubernatorial debate.

The joint event is being hosted at the home of Amalie Oil Co. exec Harry Barkett and his wife, Carmen, starting at 7:00 p.m. The invitation for the fundraiser lists a minimum contribution of $500 to attend and says supporters should show up in casual attire.

Marks is running for the Hillsborough County Commission District 7 seat currently held by retiring commissioner Al Higginbotham. Marks overcame a major fundraising gap to defeat Aakash Patel in the Republican primary election, and is set to face off against Democratic nominee Kimberly Overman and Green Party candidate Kim O’Connor in the general.

Marks, a Tampa attorney, currently leads his opponents in fundraising with more than $267,000 raised and a little over $97,000 banked as of Oct. 12. Overman has raised about half that sum, though she finished the most recent reporting period with about $12,000 left to spend. O’Connor has raised $26,000 to date and has about $22,000 on hand.

Toledo, first elected in 2016, represents Hillsborough County’s House District 60 and is up against Democrat Debra Bellanti in the fall. To date, Toledo has raised nearly $296,000 in hard money for her re-election bid and had more than $180,000 on Oct. 12. Bellanti, meanwhile, has cleared $62,000 and had $17,500 in the bank through the same date.

HD 60 is a fairly safe Republican seat. Though it only went narrowly for Trump two years ago, Toledo easily punched her ticket to Tallahassee with a 14-point win over 2016 Democratic nominee David Singer.

The general election is Nov. 6. The fundraiser invitation is below.

marks, todd - fundraiser

Jeff Solomon

Internal poll shows HD 115 race could come down to the wire

The race to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Michael Bileca in House District 115 is shaping up to be closer than expected, according to a new poll commissioned by allies of Democratic nominee Jeff Solomon.

The Kitchens Group poll found voters in the district the heretofore GOP-leaning district are split down the middle, 45-45 percent, over whether they want a Republican or Democrat to represent them in the state House next year. Another 8 percent of voters said they didn’t see a difference between the two major parties while 2 percent said they were unsure which they preferred.

When Solomon and Republican nominee Vance Aloupis were pitted against each other by name, Solomon came out on top 47-42 percent with 11 percent undecided.

In both instances, independent voters made the key difference. Nine in 10 Republicans said they plan to tow the party line on Election Day, and nearly as many Democrats said the same. Among unaffiliated and third-party voters, however, Solomon leads 46-30 percent.

Further down the poll were measurements of each candidate’s favorability.

Aloupis, an attorney who works as the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, was seen as “very favorable” by 18 percent of voters and “somewhat favorable” by another 8 percent. A combined 10 percent of voters said they found the University of Miami alumnus unfavorable to some degree, giving him a plus-16 favorability rating.

While the results aren’t too bad for the first-time candidate, 47 percent of voters said they didn’t know who Aloupis was, while Solomon was an unknown quantity to 37 percent of those polled.

For his part, the South Florida chiropractor earned a 27-15 percent score on the fave/unfave question, putting him at a 4-point disadvantage compared to his Republican rival. Solomon’s name-ID advantage can likely be attributed to this being his third go around as the Democratic nominee in HD 115. He lost to Bileca 54-46 percent two years ago, and back in 2012, he fell short by about 5 percentage points.

Like other majority-Hispanic districts, Republicans fared well at the bottom of the ballot while voters soundly rejected President Donald Trump. MCI Maps’ data on the 2016 elections shows Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried the district by 10 points.

The Kitchens Group poll also indicates HD 115 voters are leaning toward Democrat Andrew Gillum rather than former Republican Ron DeSantis by a 5-point margin in the race for Governor, possibly due to the latter’s well-known embrace of Trump, who endorsed him early on in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Missing from the poll, however, are breakdowns on how each candidate scored among different demographics of voters and how many of the interviews were conducted via cell phone. The poll also notes that 90 percent of the interviews in conducted in the majority-Hispanic district were in English, which could skew the results toward Solomon.

HD 115 covers an inland strip of Miami-Dade County, including parts of Pinecrest, South Miami and Palmetto Bay. Bileca’s largest margin of victory came was his 18-point thrashing of Democrat Kristopher Decossard in 2014, a wave year for Republicans.

The Kitchens Group poll was conducted Oct. 5 through Oct. 7 via live telephone interviews, including to cell phones. It received responses from 316 likely voters in the district. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

The poll is below.

FL HD 115 Poll – The Kitchens Group by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

SD 16 - Hooper vs. Murphy

Ed Hooper leads Amanda Murphy by a hair in SD 16 dogfight

Former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper and Former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy are locked in a dogfight according to a new poll of the race for open Senate District 16 seat.

The St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Oct. 18, found Hopper leading Murphy by a basket 19 days out from the election, 48-46 percent with 6 percent undecided. His 2-point lead among SD 16 voters shrinks to just six-tenths of a point, however, among the 36 percent who said they’ve already cast their ballot.

The Clearwater Republican is also up a deuce over his New Port Richey rival among the yet-to-vote crowd, which favored him 47-45 percent. Those voters were the most undecided, with 8 percent saying they hadn’t decided which of the two former lawmakers would earn their vote.

The topline results in the new poll are almost unmoved from where they were a month ago, when Hooper led Murphy 47-45 percent in the Tampa Bay area scrap.

The consistency in the topline numbers belies a few shifts in the senate scrum since that measure.

Hooper and Murphy have both improved among their party’s base, an important accomplishment for Hooper especially, Murphy was peeling away a fifth of Republicans in the prior poll. He’s lost ground among independents, however, who have started to skew more heavily toward the Democrat.

A month ago, Murphy held a 46-41 percent lead among unaffiliated and no-party voters. That lead has more than doubled to a 52-39 percent spread in the interim, heavily augmenting her base in a district where Republicans make up a strong plurality of the electorate.

White voters have been steady in giving a slim edge to Hooper, whom they favored 48-44 percent with 19 days to go until Election Day.

Murphy is still racking up big leads among the handful of black and Hispanic voters polled, though non-Hispanic whites make up 85 percent of the district’s voting age population, and redistricting data shows those voters tend to made up an even larger share of those who make it to the polls.

A full third of white voters said they’ve already cast their ballot.

Hooper has also improved his standing among women, who now prefer him over Murphy by 5 points, 49-44 percent. That step forward was coupled with a backslide among med — Murphy has improved from a 7-point underdog among those voters into a virtual tie at 47 percent all.

Millennials, Gen Xers are still leaning toward Hooper by a material margin although he and Murphy are grappling for supremacy among older voters, who make up a much larger share of the electorate and tend to punch above their weight at the ballot box.

There’s are virtually tie among voters aged 50 to 65, the largest age bracket in the district, while the 70-plus crowd has started gravitating toward Murphy by a statistically significant 51-45 percent margin.

The push poll received 816 responses from registered voters who said they were voting in the Nov. 6 general election. The sample was 41 percent Republican, one-third Democrat and 26 percent independent. The topline results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Though Hooper has held on to a slim in the last couple St. Pete Polls surveys, his inability to muster up an outside-the-margin edge indicates SD 16 voters will make a marked shift toward the Democrats this cycle.

That shift could be due to the now 10-month interregnum since SD 16 voters last had a representative — the seat was last held by Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who was a vocal Hooper supporter and considered an asset in his Senate campaign before he resigned late last year amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

Additionally, Murphy has shown an unprecedented ability to lull GOP voters in each of her three elections. In a 2013 special election, she took over for exiting Republican Rep. Mike Fasano — with his blessing, no less — and won re-election to a full term the following year.

In 2016, she was booted from office by now-Republican Rep. Amber Mariano in one of the closest state House races in recent history. In spite of President Donald Trump winning the Pasco-based House seat in a 20-point landslide, the Murpy-Mariano contest came down to to just 691 votes, or 0.6 percent.

While SD 16 is essentially an even-money race when it comes to the odds, Hooper and Murphy are nowhere near even in the fundraising race.

As of Oct. 5, Hooper had raked in more than $900,000 for his comeback bid, including $600,000 in hard money and another $300,000-plus in committee cash via Friends of Ed Hooper, not to mention the substantial “in-kind” support he’s received from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a cash rich party affiliated committee helmed by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano. Hooper has $421,000 in the bank.

For her part, Murphy has collected $116,500 in hard money and another $276,300 in soft via her two PACs — Working Towards Florida’s Future and Taxpayers for Responsible Government. She had a relatively lean $55,540 banked between the three accounts on Oct. 5.

SD 16 covers northern Pinellas County and southwestern Pasco County, including Clearwater, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, New Port Richey and Oldsmar. Republicans make up about 38 percent of the district’s electorate, while Democrats make up about a third. Two years ago, President Donald Trump carried the district by 12 points.

Holly Raschein touts bipartisan approach in new HD 120 ad

Key Largo Republican Rep. Holly Raschein is rolling out a new TV ad supporting her bid for a fourth and final term representing the Florida Keys and South Miami-Dade in House District 120.

The ad, titled “All of Us,” pitches the third term lawmaker as an effective bipartisan leader, noting her experience working as a legislative aide to former Republican Rep. Ken Sorensen, now deceased, as well as former Democratic Rep. Ron Saunders.

“I’m Holly Raschein. I’ve been working for our home district for 15 years as an aide to both a Republican and a Democrat, and as your representative since 2012,” she says in the ad. “Effectively fighting for us in Tallahassee requires knowledge and experience.

“I’ve proven that for hurricane recovery, water projects, protecting our environment and affordable housing I’ll work with anyone, anytime for all of us.”

The 30-second spot was paid for by the Republican Party of Florida as part of a package supporting Raschein, HD 115 nominee Vance Aloupis and HD 111 Rep. Bryan Avila.

Raschein faces Democratic nominee Steve Friedman in the general election and even according to internal polls released by Florida Democrats she leads him by a touchdown.

The incumbent lawmaker also holds a massive lead in fundraising with more than $334,000 in hard money raised and $135,000 in the bank as of Oct. 12. Friedman, meanwhile, has raised $121,000 and had $31,500 left to spend in his latest report.

Raschein has had little trouble holding onto the seat despite Democrats holding a slim voter registration advantage in the district, which covers all of Monroe and part of southern Miami-Dade.

In 2012, the district sent Raschein to Tallahassee with a 52-48 victory over Democrat Ian Whitney. She went unopposed in 2014 and won her third term with a 14-point victory in 2016 even though HD 120 narrowly voted for Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

The ad is below.


HOA group endorses a score of state legislative candidates

A trade group representing a consortium of community association managers rolled out a list of 20 endorsements for non-incumbent candidates running for state House and state Senate seats.

The Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies represents more than 18,000 licensed, professional community association managers who manage more than 14,000 community associations.

“Dedicated to protecting the quality of life and affordable cost of living for six million Florida homeowners, Florida’s licensed Community Association Managers, and the 14,000 Associations who employ them, understand the importance and necessity of educating our legislators and those who seek to become legislators in Florida,” said CEOMC executive director and lobbyist Mark Anderson.

“With so many incumbents not returning to the legislature next year, we focused most of our attention on candidates running in ‘open’ seats throughout Tampa Bay, Orlando, and South Florida. On behalf of CEOMC, I’m pleased to offer our industry’s support for the following candidates.”

Four Senate candidates, all Republicans, got the nod: Former Clearwater Rep. Ed Hooper, who is running against former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy in SD 16; Sarasota Rep. Joe Gruters, who faces Democrat Faith Olivia Babis in SD 23; Hialeah Rep. Manny Diaz, who is being challenged by Democratic nominee David Perez, a former firefighter; and Marili Cancio, who is looking to oust first-term Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo in SD 40.

The other 16 CEOMC endorsements went to state House candidates, including a dozen Republicans and four Democrats. A quintet of those endorsements went to candidates running in some of the most competitive House races of the 2018 cycle.

Those names include Orlando Democrat Anna Eskamani, who is looking to flip HD 47, the seat vacated due to Republican Rep. Mike Miller’s congressional bid; St. Petersburg Democrat Jennifer Webb earned CEOMC’s seal of approval in HD 69, currently held by exiting GOP Rep. Kathleen Peters; Ocean Ridge Democrat Jim Bonfiglio, who is seeking to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager in HD 89; Republican Chip LaMarca, a Broward County Commissioner running against Emma Collum in HD 93.

Miami Republican Anthony Rodriguez was the only House candidate who got CEOMC’s seal of approval over an incumbent lawmaker. Rodriguez is running against freshman Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio in HD 118.

The full list of CEOMC endorsed candidates:

— HD 28: Republican David Smith

— HD 32: Republican Anthony Sabatini

— HD 37: Republican Ardian Zika

— HD 47: Democrat Anna Eskamani

— HD 57: Republican Mike Beltran

— HD 59: Republican Joe Wicker

— HD 66: Republican Nick DiCeglie

— HD 69: Democrat Jennifer Webb

— HD 71: Republican Will Robinson

— HD 73: Republican Tommy Gregory

— HD 79: Republican Spencer Roach

— HD 89: Democrat Jim Bonfiglio

— HD 93: Republican Chip LaMarca

— HD 98: Democrat Michael Gottlieb

— HD 115: Republican Vance Aloupis

— HD 118: Republican Anthony Rodriguez

— SD 16: Former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper

— SD 23: Republican Rep. Joe Gruters

— SD 36: Republican Rep. Manny Diaz

— SD 40: Republican Marili Cancio

Linda Jack TV ad

Linda Jack hits Amber Mariano for ‘failed representation’ in new ad

New Port Richey Democrat Linda Jack is out with a new ad hammering Republican Rep. Amber Mariano in her quest to flip Pasco County’s House District 36 back into the Democratic column.

The ad, titled “Better Leadership for West Pasco,” says Mariano has come up short in fulfilling the promises she made during her successful ouster of former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy two years ago.

“Amber Mariano promised to prioritize education, she promised to provide millions of dollars for flood relief, she promised to represent us. West Pasco deserves better leadership,” the ad narrator says, over a title card reading “failed leadership.”

The ad then shifts focus to Jack, a musician, educator and veterinarian who has been campaigning for the state House since June of 2017.

“I’m Linda Jack, and as a veterinarian people trust me to work hard, solve complex problems and do my very best to help,” she says in the ad. “I’ll be honored to serve as your next representative. Let’s work together to make West Pasco better than ever.”

Jack’s campaign didn’t say what kind of media buy was backing up the ad, though the Facebook Ad Archive confirms the 30-second spot has been running on the social media platform since Oct. 10 and has gathered between 10,000 and 50,000 impressions.

“Amber Mariano has failed us,” Jack said in announcing the ad. “She barely won in 2016 by promising she’d do the right thing for Pasco. I’m hearing a lot of buyers’ remorse around the district.

“Tallahassee is badly broken, and Amber Mariano has gladly joined the party,” she continued. “When our education system is failing, red tide is destroying our coast, and homeowners are left without protection all because politicians won’t keep their promises — it’s obvious we need a change.”

HD 36 covers the entire coast of Pasco County, including the communities of Hudson, Bayonet Point, New Port Richey, Beacon Square and Holiday.

Before Mariano became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House two years ago, HD 36 was held by Murphy for three years. That election came down to 691 votes, and was considered an upset to some despite the district voting overwhelmingly for Trump.

Prior to Murphy the seat was held by Republican Mike Fasano, who is now Pasco’s Tax Collector. He crossed party lines to endorse Murphy in the 2013 special election to replace him.

The ad is below.

Bruce Antone officially re-elected to fourth term in HD 46

Orlando Democratic Rep. Bruce Antone faced only token opposition in his campaign for a fourth term in House District 46, but the early exit of his write-in challenger leaves him as the only candidate running for the Orange County seat.

Sandra Lewis, an Orlando resident, filed as a write-in candidate for HD 46 in the final days of the qualifying period for state elections, which is usually a strategy to lock down partisan primary races. No other Democrat filed to challenge Antone, however, virtually assuring he would win his fourth and final term in the state House.

According to Florida Division of Elections records, a withdrawal letter from Lewis was received on Oct. 3, and the Division accepted and responded to the letter on Oct. 4.

State law requires candidates who withdraw from races to dispose of all surplus funds in their campaign accounts and send in a final campaign finance report within 90 days of their exit. Lewis raised $0 for her campaign and instead filed a waiver for every reporting cycle since she entered the race on June 21.

HD 46 covers part of Orange County and is a majority-minority seat with substantial advantage for Democrats. Hillary Clinton took 82 percent of the vote in HD 46 two years ago, compared to a 15 percent share for now-President Donald Trump.

Along with 2012, this cycle makes for two elections in which Antone faced Election Day challenger. His only opposition in 2014 and 2016 came from write-ins.

Fresh poll: Kelli Stargel leads Bob Doyel by 12 points in SD 22

A new poll of the Senate District 22 race shows state Sen. Kelli Stargel has nearly doubled her lead over Democratic nominee Bob Doyel compared to a month ago.

A new St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Oct. 13-14, found the Lakeland Republican leading Doyel 52-40 percent with 8 percent of voters undecided. That margin was consistent among the 19 percent of voters who said they had already turned in their ballot as well as the 81 percent of voters who said they planned to vote but have not done so yet.

The new results come four weeks after St. Pete Polls last polled the district and show a statistically significant gain for Stargel as well as some minor slippage for Doyel, a retired circuit court judge. The month-old poll pegged the race at 48-41 percent, advantage Stargel.

The Doyel campaign has circulated internal polls showing him leading Stargel, however, those now-stale numbers were never corroborated by any public poll of the race.

Doyel has a little room for growth among the Democratic base, 12 percent of which is still undecided. About 18 percent of Democrats are leaning toward Stargel, however, which is considerable due registered Dems making up a plurality of the Polk County-based district’s electorate.

Likely Republicans voters are in lockstep, preferring Stargel 84-10 percent. Third- and no-party voters are also tilting toward the incumbent by a near 20-point margin.

There’s more good news for Stargel, first elected in 2012, further down the poll. She’s the pick for the majority men, women, white and Hispanic voters, Millennials, Gen Xers and younger Baby Boomers

Doyel, for his part, held a 4-point lead among voters over 70 years old and posted strong results among the few black respondents polled, though black voters only make up about 14 percent of SD 22’s voting age population according to U.S. Census data.

SD 22 covers southern Lake County and northern Polk County and has trended toward GOP candidates in the past despite registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans by a couple points.

In the 2016 cycle, Stargel beat underfunded Democrat Debra Wright by a touchdown while President Donald Trump carried the Central Florida seat by nearly the same margin.

Though Doyel has overperformed past Democratic nominees in fundraising, Stargel’s campaign and committee accounts are as flush with cash as ever, and she’s also received significant backup from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a well-stocked Republican Party-affiliated committee chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano.

To date, Stargel has raised $487,000 in hard money and had $138,250 banked on Oct. 5. She also has $263,000 ready to deploy in her affiliated PAC, Limited Govt for a Stronger Florida Political Committee.

Doyel’s early October finance reports brought him up to $431,000 in total fundraising — $212,500 hard and 218,600 soft. On Oct. 5, the Winter Haven Democrat had $210,500 banked between his campaign account and affiliated political committee, Bring Back Democracy.

Florida Democrats are hoping the so-called ‘blue wave’ can put it and other Republican-held Senate seats in their column come November, though poll results in SD 22 and other targeted districts show waning odds that Democrats can force a tie or take the majority in the state Senate, where Republicans hold a 23-16 advantage with one vacancy.

The St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, was conducted via an automated phone call polling system. It received responses from 503 registered voters who said they planned to vote in the general election. The sample was 38 percent Democrats, 38 percent Republicans and 24 percent independents.

The top-line results have a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

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